Panicked in the Zoom Zoom Room? Edith Young has you covered.
Human nature programs us to adapt, and suddenly we’ve all grown accustomed to seeing our business associates arrayed like The Brady Bunch over Zoom or Google Hangouts. Even if you’re the picture of professionalism in the traditional workplace, reinventing your digital persona to have the stoicism of a LinkedIn headshot may feel next to impossible when the personal and professional have become inextricably intertwined. Below are a few tips and tricks for sustaining Zoom etiquette that I’ve had the opportunity to refine over the course of the last few weeks—perhaps they will help you, too. 

Set The Tone

I like to enter the Google Hangout at 4:28pm instead of 4:30pm, so that I can greet every entrant individually as if the chat is a building and I am its doorman. When you get there early, you can crack a few jokes to lighten the mood while the crowd is still intimate. This gives you an opportunity to try out some of your new material on an audience other than your co-habitants (I like subverting the medium that is water-cooler small talk and delivering it dryly: “Got any big plans this weekend?”). This strategy makes me feel like a small-town comedian warming up the audience for a big act.

Tap into the Power of Paper

On a practical level, I recommend taking notes on a physical notepad, rather than on your computer, so that your furious typing doesn’t sound like a woodpecker in your coworkers’ headphones. (I also find that managing short term tasks is much easier to in print, bullet-point form, and it makes striking those tasks off the list all the more satisfying.) Above all else, it provides an excuse to busy your idle hands and hold your pen as a prop for dramatic effect. Here’s one failsafe way to remind your coworkers that you’re well-mannered: With your pen between your fingers, telegraph to your colleagues that you’re listening intently by cocking your head slightly to the right. 

Mic Check

I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t committed one of the most major video-conferencing faux pas, which is piping up in a meeting or answering a question while your microphone is still turned off. If this minor grievance develops into a bad habit, I recommend that the next time it happens, you mime like you’re stuck in a box before turning the mic back on, in the name of winning back your colleagues’ hearts and minds. If you have enough self-awareness to know that you’re prone to accidentally leaving yourself on mute for the foreseeable future, wear a horizontally-striped T-shirt to your next meeting. Commit to the bit. 

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